Corey Crawford couldn’t help but smile when asked about getting the Team Canada nod on Wednesday.
“Yeah, I’ve been trying to make that team for a while,” Crawford said.
As Crawford pointed out the World Cup of Hockey, in which he’ll be one of three goaltenders for Team Canada, is still a few months away. But getting that nod, getting that chance to represent his country is an honor for Crawford. It’s also validation and recognition for a goaltender that finally may be getting his due as one of the NHL’s best.
“I’m happy for him,” Jonathan Toews said. “A lot of people think he’s been a good goaltender because our team’s good. But I honestly think it’s mostly the other way around, especially this year.”
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That has been one of the statements from Crawford’s critics these past few seasons: that he benefits from the group in front of him. Also, that he’s been too erratic and that he doesn’t steal many games. This season, however, it’s been tough to back up any of those criticisms. During the Blackhawks’ 12-game winning streak Crawford was one of their most consistent players, stealing a few games. His seven shutouts still lead the league and his victory over Detroit on Wednesday was his 34th victory this season, a new career high.
“Great accomplishment, happy and proud for him. I think he’s been under the radar and he gets his due,” coach Joel Quenneville said, “I’m very happy for him and I look forward to him being a part of it next fall.”
Crawford’s also not the flashiest goaltender that’s played the game; he’s not going to make a lot of those acrobatic, highlight-reel saves. But the bottom line is he’s been making the stops, and more of them this season than in previous years. And he’s also getting more national attention.
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“When you’re in a locker room, some guys have big household names and have always been treated that way and some guys don’t,” Toews said. “He’s one of those guys who’s finally earning the recognition he’s getting through the continued success and consistency he’s shown for our team.”
Crawford already has two Stanley Cups on his resume. He’s also won two William Jennings trophies for his work. Still, no matter how much they win, there are always goals that players want to reach. With his Team Canada selection, Crawford has achieved a long-coveted goal.
“It’s a huge honor,” Crawford said. “It’s still a ways away, but it’s nice to be named and have a chance to play for your country.”